IS ART IMPORTANT? IS ART ALWAYS POLITICAL?

IS ART IMPORTANT? IS ART ALWAYS POLITICAL?

These are loaded questions, and my own opinion a lame request, one that should be answered within the context of culture and society.

From the earliest civilizations, art has been the voice of any culture, politically, religiously and within their geographical influences. The Roman Catholic Church, or the aspirations of the powerful ruling families of the time mostly drove the Italian Renaissance. It is a similar precept in the Age of Enlightenment in Europe, the advent of the modern industrial world, the world wars that took the lives of substantial generations.

So, let’s agree that art is a reflection of cultures, societies and times, as well as our individual responses to such. Was Nazi propaganda any different? It was after all art supporting a particular political system, wrongly as history would clearly tell us in hindsight.

Our individual responses as artists fit into two scenarios, the first supporting an individual society, politics and culture of a particular place and time, and the second as a voice of reason when such times become negative or nefarious as we see it, as individuals and culture. Artists are the reasonable voice that can expose, reveal and provoke reflections within a wider audience, often with a quiet voice that surpasses street demonstrations and other popular uprisings.

As artists, if we choose that complex and often understood path, we have the immense responsibility to do these hard things, beyond our individual choices and use our voices to express what we see, understand, accept and feel, positive or negative about where and when we live and what we comprehend about our own societies and cultures.

The very moment that you create visual art, photography, or even through many other forms, you express your opinion even if you are not fully aware of that declaration. A wonderful landscape will lead to an environmental position of some aspect; a street image will surely become a social statement; a derelict urban landscape as position on out of control economics; a politically or faith charged images will surely leads to the same. You, as an artist cannot escape the fact that you are expressing your views through your images. Instead of skirting the issue, you should embrace it and make your position clear, again in your own quiet voice. It is what you do, and should do.

We can then perhaps agree that all forms of art are indeed political by nature, all derived from our own culture, experiences and where and how we live. We should also be cognoscente that art is the ultimate canary in the mine, the voice that warns of excesses, impeding doom, and extremism in all forms.

 

5 Tips on…. “Exploring your Hidden Talent”: A UPA Gallery workshop

5 Tips on…. “Exploring your Hidden Talent”: A UPA Gallery workshop

1: You need a clear direction. Before you embark on taking photographs randomly, waiting on the chance factor, one needs a clear plan of action when it comes to subject matter. Unless you are a photojournalist or street portraitist, visual opportunities will not come to you; instead you must seek a particular subject matter and plan for capturing precise images.

2: Do not look at your images on the camera’s display. The display on your camera is lying to you and in addition you are creating a false mental image of what the images should look like according to your visual experience, one far removed from what the camera captures. Use the camera display to only show you the histogram, in other words to display the technical exposure for your images, only.

3: Wait to preview your images. Just like a fine wine images have to be viewed several days after you create them. Initially, you are biased by the knowledge of where, when and how you took these images; this mental bias will inhibit you from examining the images in an impartial and free manner, often dismissing the deep and potentially important aspects of a particular photograph.

4: Take fewer images. The prevailing thinking in photography resides in taking more images and getting better by doing so. WRONG; by applying yourself in the viewfinder and carefully thinking about what and how you are capturing a photograph you will follow the intellectual and emotional aspects of what the medium is all about, namely conveying a statement to your viewer, emotional or aesthetic.

5: Less technology, more thinking. Think about the cost of every image, around $1.00 per capture considering the costs of DSLR’s lenses, software and computers, all with a limited lifespan. The digital photo world is wonderful, but no less expensive than the analog realm. You do not need to take every piece of equipment you own on very photo excursion, just the right items according to your pre-planning. Go lighter,  your body will thank you.

Welcome to The UPA Gallery!

Welcome to The UPA Gallery!

The United Photographic Artists Gallery, L.L.C. would like to give you a warm welcome to our new site! Please have a look around and get aquainted with our artists. Contact us if you have any questions or requests. 

Thank you!